By LAUREN READ
For 45 minutes in relentless cold rain on Saturday, Colchester goalkeeper Olivia Moore stymied the potent Champlain Valley Union defense.
Six minutes into the second half, the Redhawks figured out how to get through the Lakers’ brick wall: keep the ball away from her.
“As soon as I saw Olivia cross the ball, I knew it was past the goalie,” said CVU sophomore Catherine Gilwee. “I tried to time it so I could be behind the goalie and jump over my defender.”
After CVU earned a corner kick, Olivia Zubarik served a ball to the far post – one that Moore had no chance to get a hand on – and Gilwee met the ball in the air, heading it in for a 1-0 lead.
The CVU defense that allowed just three goals all season helped the goal stand and the Redhawks captured their second straight Division I girls soccer title on Saturday at Burlington High School.
“I am so lucky to have a chance to have phenomenal soccer players every year,” said CVU coach Stan Williams. “This is just a special, special group.”
Zubarik, who had 15 assists this season, stepped up to take the corner knowing two things: keep it away from the goalie and find Gilwee on the back post.
“Catherine and I have played together a lot,” Zubarik said. “She is one of those people that can get a head on it. If I just served it into the box and she was there, I knew it was going to go in.”
The connection was yet another for the talented sophomore class for CVU, that has now won two titles and not lost a game. Despite the departure of six seniors from the title-winning group, the future’s looking bright for the Redhawks.
“That’s the beauty, the balance and the versatility of the group,” Williams said. “That front five was pretty dynamic and the back five, too; they play off each other so well.”
Colchester’s Moore – who finished the game with 10 saves – kept CVU off the board in the first half, coming strong out of net to cut off several runs from the Redhawk forwards.
“Olivia is just next-level good,” said Colchester coach Jeff Paul. “In the big game, she came up big for us again. She played phenomenally.”
Her strong play continued in the second half until the Zubarik-Gilwee connection broke the tie.
“It’s amazing,” Gilwee said. “It feels awesome.”
Meanwhile, CVU goalie Maryn Askew (two saves) had a quiet game. She needed to make no saves in the second half to earn the clean sheet.
With the win, CVU captures its seventh title in eight years.
“It’s an honor to be part of the program that has so much history and for these guys to write their own history,” Williams said.
Semifinals came first
The Redhawks solidified their spot in the championship match last Wednesday with a 2-0 win at home over fifth-seeded South Burlington High School in the semifinals.
The Redhaws dominated the field, controlling the ball and making multiple shots on the goal.
Wolves’ goalie Hannah Murray held strong through the first half, not allowing any goals. But at the top of the second half, CVU’s Josie Pecor scored the Redhawks’ first goal. Olivia Zubarik followed with another, helping CVU pull further ahead.
Madeline Hughes contributed to this report.